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Domestic Violence; A serious social issue that isn’t black and white

“Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave” Indira Ghandi

Forgiveness comes naturally to us. It is part of our human instinct. It can be crucial to finding peace and reconciliation within oneself. But can forgiving the wrong person cost you your life?

There is a scene in the movie Good Will Hunting when Will, a character played by Matt Damon, has an argument with his girlfriend Skylar, played by Minnie Driver. It starts with the couple lying together in bed as they discuss the future. Will suddenly becomes hostile over the conversation, jumps out of bed and begins to furiously shout at Sklyar.  Appearing entirely confused at his outburst, she confronts him while trying to comprehend his fury. Will continues his rampage and abruptly slams Skylar into the closet door. Violently, he punches his fist into the wall over and over again. His rage frightens her along with the audience watching the film. But after hearing of Will’s troubled past, Skylar immediately shares the pain he carries. She dismisses her own fear and offers the man she loves comfort and assistance. In that moment Skylar has forgiven his violent act, and as the scene unfolds, so do we.

Of course this is a Hollywood movie, one that ends well for these characters. Will is able to find the help he needs and goes to see about a girl. We assume they live happily ever after and that Will never lays a hand on Skylar ever again. But over 4 million women will find themselves in a relationship with a very different outcome. Every day in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. These are women who have fallen victim to domestic violence regardless of their race, social status or religion. It is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. So how does someone get involved in an abusive relationship and why do they stay?

There is no simple answer to that question.  It’s just as complicated as asking why does someone become an alcoholic? Women suffering from domestic violence did not start out in an abusive relationship. It happened slowly over time. Imagine your husband comes to you with an addiction of some sort. This is a man who you have loved for years.  You share a life together, maybe even a family. Could you envision yourself abandoning him and walking away from years of marriage based on this one discovery? The quick answer is probably no. If you are like most people, your love will afford you the kindness to stay with your partner, seek out the help he needs and hope for change. It’s not entirely different for women who have suffered from domestic violence.

Much like addiction, domestic violence tends to worsen over time. The longer a victim remains in an abusive relationship, the harder it is for her to escape it. As the relationship continues, the abuser will persist to manipulate and dominate his victim causing her to feel trapped by shame and fear. In many cases, a victim will find that she is isolated from friends and family leaving her with no one to turn to. She is often financially dependent on her spouse and is afraid of becoming homeless.  But the most profound reason why a woman will choose to remain in an abusive relationship is the chilling fear that her abuser will kill her or her children for leaving.  According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the risk of death or injury to a victim is greatest when leaving an abusive relationship or shortly thereafter. Sadly, many survivors will have endured years of abuse before safely escaping.

Nearly 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. It could be a mother at your child’s school, a gym partner, a co-worker, even YOU! To learn more about domestic violence and how you can help put an end to violent acts against women, please visit www.awomansplace.org.

References: http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics–facts-52.html

Re-posted from March 4, 2015, with permission:  http://deservingdecor.org/domestic-violence/domestic-violence-a-serious-social-issue-that-isnt-black-and-white/

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